The former world champion showered his offspring with praise and with the showdown between O’Sullivan and Chris Eubank Jr coming some 20 years since senior’s loss to Steve Collins, the eloquent pugilist was asked whether he derived any sense of personal satisfaction from his son’s win.
O’Sullivan is, of course, trained by Paschal Collins, brother of Steve, and it was the trainer who made the call to halt the fight after seven rounds of a bout which had seen ‘Spike’ ship tremendous punishment while only sporadically posing Eubank Jr any real problems.
“This is not about me, I’m just the patriarch, so I oversee… and the position in which I stand is one of protection,” said Eubank Sr, dismissing any suggestion that this was a revenge mission of sorts for his losses to Steve Collins.
“This is a very unforgiving, ruthless business,” continued Eubank Sr. “The only person who can care for the fighter more so than anyone else is the father,” he added.
There was a fitting irony to his assertion that only a father could possibly care so much about a fighter’s well-being.
In making the call to pull 31-year-old O’Sullivan out before he suffered any irreparable damage, Paschal Collins showed genuine consideration for his fighter to match that of any parent.
The Mahon native had started confidently, boxing with his hands down by his sides at the start of the opening round and goading the posturing 26-year-old Eubank, who accepted a couple of openings to catch his opponent.
Despite those blows, the first round was a competitive affair, much more so than the second round that saw Eubank threaten to break double figures on the amount of uppercuts he landed flush on O’Sullivan’s chin.
Most mere mortals would have been seeing stars but ‘Spike’ continued to march forward undeterred, seemingly gleeful in the heat of battle.
After surviving that onslaught, O’Sullivan had his best round of the fight in the third, giving Eubank a taste of his own power.
The seeds of defeat may have already been sown, however. Somewhere between the punishment he shipped in the second and fifth rounds, O’Sullivan is believed to have suffered a perforated eardrum - an injury he was possibly susceptible to having picked one up in his loss to Billy Joe Saunders two years ago.
With O’Sullivan’s balance and equilibrium unsteady as a result, Collins opted to make his paternal call.
“It’s always going to be a hard call but it’s one I’ll make and stand by,” said the trainer. “Spike looked off balance and when he came back to the corner, I asked, ‘are your feet alright?’
“He told me his ear was gone, so I said I’ll give you one round at a time. It looked like he was getting hurt because his balance was off.
“From about [round] six on, I said I was going to stop it and he said, ‘give me one more round, one more round’ and his balance just wasn’t there,” continued Collins.
“If I sent him out knowing what I knew in the corner and he gets caught, I’d feel guilty if he got hurt. He’s got three kids and a partner. At the end of the day, his health is more important than Chris Eubank.” For his part, O’Sullivan was understanding of his trainer’s protective decision, if not delighted by the call.
The Cork man had talked a good game in the build-up while his pre-fight mischief - including a kiss for his opponent at the weigh-in - ensured it would be a fiery fight.
“He never hurt me, I never felt that I was f**ked or that I was in trouble. I never felt like going down or wobbled,” said O’Sullivan.
“I’d never stop - Paschal stopped me or maybe the ref could stop me but I’d never go down and I’d never stop… I never felt like quitting.
“I tried my best, it wasn’t good enough tonight,” continued O’Sullivan, his voice cracking with emotion in his dressingroom afterwards. “I’m very disappointed but what more could I really do?” While Eubank had the better of most of the fight, the gutsy O’Sullivan (now 22-2 as a pro) can take some heart from his gallant effort. Eubank Sr, veteran cornerman Ronnie Davies and trainer Adam Booth were all in Junior’s corner and all three could have joined him in the ring and it still would not be certain that they could have managed to put O’Sullivan on the canvas.
“That’s one thing I’ll give him, he can take a shot. Even though he did quit on his stool, for him not to go down, he showed heart,” said Eubank Jr, adding that O’Sullivan’s antics at the weigh-in made him more determined.
“He kind of sealed his fate. I went in there with a mentality of search and destroy. No mercy,” said the winner.
Eubank Jr (now 21-1 as a pro) is left to weigh up a number of options, including a possible title shot, after beating a durable opponent who is left to lick his wounds and fight another day.
“We’ll go away and assess things,” said Collins. “I’m disappointed for Spike but not disappointed in him because he showed guts in there, but at the end of the day I’ve got to take care of him because he’s my friend as well as my fighter and I hope I made the right decision.”